Archeage has had a pretty rough launch so far. Honestly, I want to say funny things about it, but I'm too annoyed.
The VIP Early Access Preferred Headstart AAA+ Gold Member soft-launch, which started a few days ago, was plagued by ultra-long server queues, angry customers not having their pre-order bundles recognized by the launcher, DDoS attacks and what is probably the worst launcher/updater it has ever been my intense displeasure to be forced to use.
I was hoping I would be able to download the game client in advance, because that's a sensible thing to do, and a sensible thing for a game company to provide for its customers. Nearly every company has a way to download game clients prior to launch day. Not Trion Worlds.
To start with, the sign-up process on the Archeage official website appeared to be badly broken on the day I decided to sign up - the first day of the Head Start. I imagine this was due, in part, to overloaded servers and probably the DDoS turkeys who have been the only real source of entertainment for me so far. I was able to sign up for two accounts, using two different email addresses. I got confirmation emails for both. And when I tried to log into the Glyph website with those accounts, my credentials kept not working. In fact, the only reason I made two to begin with is because I thought the first broken account was my fault. It actually probably still works.
I would change the password, get the confirmation email that my password had, indeed, been changed, attempt to log in with that new password, and be denied. That lasted all day. I would have filed a complaint ticket, or called up the company to yell at them, but if you want the contact info, you have to first log in. A downward spiral of fail.
I even pestered Xerin and Sardu about it, figuring they would have some kind of clever insider information like they usually do. Xerin assured me that he was having just as much hassle and annoyance with it as I was, and that he had actually bought (or been given) one of the founder packs.
Eventually, that straightened out, and I was able to download and log into the Glyph platform, which serves as a launcher and updater for a few different Trion games, including RIFT. It seemed logical that, with the multi-game platform installed and running, I should be able to download the client even though I wouldn't be able to log in and play for a few days until the launch.
Wrong. No pre-order Head Start access, no download. I got Error #2028 every time I tried to click the big red Update button, and the message that I did not have "the right entitlements." What "right entitlements"? It's supposed to be F2P, isn't it? More angry, ranting emails to Xerin and Sardu!
In my opinion, this is a pretty serious error in judgement on behalf of Trion. I wanted to be able to get in on launch day and see the world full of people, all clamoring around and asking the same questions I would be asking. I've been able to do that with loads of other games. In this case, I have to wait to start downloading the game on launch day. With my slow, unsteady internet connection, this means I'll be at least 2 days behind. I'll be asking the same questions people asked 2 days ago, and the people that had those questions answered 2 days ago will say things about "there are a million YouTube videos about that" or make snide comments about how I should learn to use Google.
After some further launch day frustrations - DDoS, delayed launch time, "you do not have the right entitlements" errors - I was finally able to download an updated version of Glyph, which gave access to an updated version of the Archeage client.
That should have been just fine, but it isn't. Because, as mentioned above, Glyph is one of the shittiest downloader/patcher/launcher platforms I have ever had to use.
Most MMOs use something similar these days - a multi-game platform that downloads game clients, keeps games updated, and serves as a launcher for all of them. PerfectWorld does it, both with their Arc platform and with the title-specific launchers for Star Trek Online, Champions Online and Neverwinter, which allow the user to update all three game clients with the launcher for any one of the three titles. EA does it with Origin. Blizzard does it with the new Battle.net launcher. Steam has been doing it for years. But even the worst among them is nowhere near as worthless and frustrating as Glyph.
Most of these platforms work sort of like torrent clients - they download small chunks, and if the data stream is interrupted, the download stalls until the stream opens up again, and then the download resumes, without a significant loss of data.
Glyph is an ancient piece of crap in comparison to any kind of peer-to-peer downloader. If there's a jiggle in the connection, it stops the download and generates an error message telling you there may be a problem with your internet connection. It's not downloading small parcels like in a torrent file - it's downloading large chunks. And if that chunk gets interrupted, that big chunk of data is lost.
It doesn't even really require a jiggle in the internet connection. In order to make the Glyph client work without hanging and losing massive chunks of data, you may need to turn off your firewall and make changes to your network adapter card's settings. Even though you can leave your firewall on for every other game on your machine, and no other application you have ever run has required a change to the DNS settings on your LAN adapter.
So what's happening now is, my downloader, which got interrupted overnight, has managed to pull in 2.70 GB out of 8.58 GB. I found an error message when I woke up this morning and checked it (Error #1034), so I clicked Okay and the big red Update button again. It worked for about half an hour or so, got close to the 3 GB mark, then interrupted again and generated another error message. I click Okay and Update - it had bounced back to 2.70 GB. Another half hour later, another few hundred MB of data, another interruption. Bounced back to 2.70 GB. This has happened at least 5 times today.
It will be a day or two, at least, before I can log into this goddamn game, and by then I might be too annoyed to actually play it. If I get in at all - I may stay stuck at 2.70 GB forever. I've disabled my firewall, disabled my anti-virus, changed my DNS settings, prayed to the Horned God AND Mighty Chthulhu, and it's still discarding data. I keep watching it - it climbs up to 2.82, and when I look away and then glance back at it, it's dropped back to 2.77. I end up downloading the same 50 MB so many times, it'll likely add up to a full GB of bandwidth usage. A few minutes later, it will probably give me another 1034 error message.
I also tried uninstalling Archeage and restarting the download from zero. Well, that was a dumb move on my part, because it's still doing the same thing, and I no longer have that initial 2.7 GB. If I want to actually download this game, I will have to sit here babysitting it, restarting it every 20 minutes or so, and getting around 10 MB at a time for the next straight week.
Seriously, Trion, get a new launcher. This one is garbage. If it is incapable of doing what even the slapdash lockbox-ad-spamming PerfectWorld game launchers can do, without requiring complicated settings changes and the disabling of all forms of digital security, it needs a redesign. One poor fellow posted a conversation with a Trion CSR, where the CSR had him attempt to do ping and traceroute tests. When these failed to produce results (which was inevitable because, according to the logs the fellow posted, the guy gave him flawed instructions that neglected to add any actual commands in the command line), the CSR said "it's your ISP."
The fault isn't with anyone's ISP. My ISP can handle this same process from nearly every other game publisher across many other platforms. Even PerfectWorld can manage to cram their buggy pay-to-win Korean trash through my lousy internet pipeline. I can download any other game client no problem without completely exposing my computer to every danger on the internet, performing archaic command-line network tests, altering the way my network card functions or calling my ISP and blaming them for not sending your game through their pipes. The problem is not at the user's end - it's Trion's shitty launcher.
The launcher is the front door to your product, and Glyph is like a screen door on a submarine - an ugly, rusty one that I personally want to smash with a hammer.
Obviously, some people are not having these problems. Probably enough that Trion doesn't care about the few disgruntled potential customers who can't get their broken product to work correctly.
Then again, maybe this delay is for the best.
A quick glance at the posted comments on the Archeage facebook page paints a pretty damned grim picture. If people could write comments using only emoticons, the ones on the ArcheAge facebook page would be all the rage-red angry faces.
It's always wise to take forum posts with a shaker full of salt - usually only the pissed-off haters are making posts, and the people who are enjoy the game are doing so quietly. But facebook posts are usually a lot more positive than forum posts. If you read the Star Wars: the Old Republic forums, for example, you'd be convinced that the game was invented in Guantanamo as a means of torturing terrorists. But the comments on the SWTOR page are not quite so overwhelmingly negative, and a few are even complimentary. This is not the case for Archeage. The Archeage facebook page is a wall of unrelenting hate and rage, such as would make a Dark Lord of the Sith shudder.
Surprisingly, the Archeage subreddit seems largely supportive and positive. The front page is, anyway. There are people complaining about ridiculously long queue times and patches breaking their Patron status, but most of the really angry, bitchy stuff doesn't make the front page. Nor did my own plea for help - because of the sheer volume of posts being made in the subreddit, my "Launcher Troubles: How Fix?" post got flushed away without drawing a single response, like hundreds of others.
How has your Archeage experience been so far? Let us know in the comments!